A JUDGE ordering the return of cash to motorists who fell victim to an illegal clamping firm revealed that he had been a victim of the scam – but ruled out claiming his money back.

Drivers were charged up to £335 to have their vehicles released after being illegally clamped by Midland Parking Contracts (MPC) which operated at sites acoss the Midlands including Worcester, Evesham, Bromsgrove and Redditch.

Andrew Minshull, boss of MPC, was jailed for 32-months in February last year after admitting a conspiracy to defraud motorists who were bullied and intimidated into paying up to have devices removed from their cars.

At Worcester Crown Court yesterday, Judge Robert Juckes QC – who himself admitted being a victim of the clampers – ordered cash from Minshull’s assets to be paid back to victims, but said he would not pursue his own compensation claim.

The court heard how Minshull, formerly of Hatfield Close, Redditch, had benefitted by £311,084 from the crime and that £121,262 could be seized for compensation by his victims.

Counsel Anthony Potter told Judge Juckes that 479 of the swindled drivers would receive about 84 per cent of what they had paid out.

Minshull, aged 38, will have to sell his home and several vehicles, some of which have personalised number plates, the court heard.

Praising West Mercia Police financial investigator Mark Bancroft for his work in tracking down the assets, Judge Jukes ordered the compensation to be paid within six months otherwise two and a half years in jail would be added to Minshull’s prison sentence.

Minshull was among four men and a woman jailed for a total of nearly eight years in February after Worcester Crown Court heard that motorists were bullied and intimidated by MPC staff.

Signs prohibiting parking were also too small, unlit at night, hidden or put up after victims had parked their cars, the court was told.

The others jailed were Minshull’s ex-girlfriend Debbie Worton, aged 43, of Longdon Close, Redditch, who received 12-months; Simon Barry, 38, of Lilac Close, Evesham, who got 21-months; Christopher Cartwright, 31, of Salisbury Drive, Kidderminster, who got 15-months and Faisal Qadeer, 35, of Mount Pleasant, Redditch, 15-months.

Judge John Cavell, who conducted the initial hearing, said MPC became a vehicle to milk the public and targeted vulnerable people, including disabled and elderly drivers.

The clampers charged a release fee of £125, plus another £170 to cancel a truck used to tow vehicles away.

After the gang was originally jailed, DS Mark Roberts, of West Mercia Police, said a barrage of complaints against the firm had led to an investigation.

“It showed that the company and its employees were effectively demanding money with menaces,” he said.